Stages of Growth for Male Survivors

by Karen Lison, MA

  1. I cannot manage my pain alone. I must seek help
  2. I acknowledge that something terrible happened. I know it is not my imagination; I was a victim of child sexual assault.
  3. I begin to recognize my feelings. There may be sadness, anger, fear, guilt, and shame. I allow myself to experience them all.
  4. I discuss the abuse thoroughly with my therapist. I completely re-experience and begin to deal with feelings appropriate for each incident of abuse that I can recall. I share feelings of shame with my survivors group.
  5. I begin to realize that I was probably acting appropriately at the time the abuse occurred. (That is, my reactions were appropriate; the abuse was not!)
  6. If there was a part of the molestation that was pleasurable to me, I am coming to terms with the fact of that pleasure and I am dealing with the guilt surrounding it.
  7. I perceive the connection between my molestation and my current behavioral patterns and relationships. I am beginning to develop some control over that connection.
  8. I recognize that I have a choice as to whether or not I confront my perpetrators.
  9. I am beginning to understand what I desire from relationships as I learn to trust my perceptions.
  10. I am able to enjoy intimacy.
  11. I develop a sense of self and my self-esteem has increased.
  12. My resistance to talking about the abuse (although not necessarily the details of it) has diminished.
  13. I realized that I have a choice as to whether or not I forgive my perpetrators. I have forgiven myself.
  14. I am in touch with past the anger, that detached from yet so that it is not a constant part of my feelings and a negative influence on my other feelings, my functioning, and my relationships with others. I no longer live in the past. I'm living the present and welcome the future with all its fears to, imperfections, and unpredictabilities.

taken from Secret Survivors by E. Sue Blume. Copyright 1990 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Even though this book is primarily for women, I thought this list was applicable for men as well. If you can think of anything that might differ for men, please let us know and I'll see about changing it to make more appropriate.